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Hussain Haqqani offers resignation in memo row

November 17, 2011

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The government said on Thursday that it has not decided whether to accept a resignation offer from its ambassador to the US over a reported attempt to enlist Washington's help to rein in the country's military after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The government has summoned Ambassador Husain Haqqani to Islamabad to question him about any role he may have played in the growing controversy, which was first disclosed in an Oct. 10 column in the Financial Times, said Farhatullah Babar, a Pakistani presidential spokesman.

Mansoor Ijaz, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, said in the column that a senior Pakistani diplomat asked him on May 9, a week after US commandos killed bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison town, to pass a message from President Asif Ali Zardari to the US asking for help. Ijaz did not name the diplomat.

Zardari was reportedly worried that the US raid had so humiliated his government, which did not know about it beforehand, that the military may stage a coup, something that has happened repeatedly in Pakistan's history, said Ijaz.

The memo sent to Adm. Mike Mullen, the top US military officer at the time, reportedly offered to curb support to militants from Pakistan's military intelligence service, the ISI, in exchange for American assistance, Ijaz said.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry has called the Financial Times column ''a total fabrication.''

But Mullen's spokesman, Capt. John Kirby, confirmed to Foreign Policy's website on Wednesday that Mullen did receive the memo from Ijaz, but he did not find it credible and ignored it.

Haqqani said on Thursday that he did not write or deliver the memo, but offered his resignation to end the controversy.

''I do not want this non-issue of an insignificant memo written by a private individual and not considered credible by its lone recipient to undermine democracy,'' Haqqani told The Associated Press.

Haqqani is expected to travel to Islamabad in the next few days so that the government can determine who should be blamed for the incident, Babar said. He said the government has not received a formal letter of resignation from Haqqani, and talk of what would happen to him was ''premature.''

The controversy is said to have outraged the Pakistani army, considered the most powerful institution in the country. The army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, met with Pakistan's president in recent days, but the outcome of those discussions is unclear.

Haqqani's resignation would create more uncertainty in the already troubled relationship between Pakistan and the US. The bin Laden raid in the town of Abbottabad severely strained ties, as have US drone strikes targeting militants in Pakistan's rugged tribal area along the Afghan border.